Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Good day at work, good policy day and planning a trip to Nanty Glo on Friday, followed up by a good Mike recipe day!  These calzones had a delicious supple crust, not too much ricotta (ricotta sometimes tastes like hot cottage cheese to me) and a good sauce.  There wasn't enough for dipping, however, and we resorted to jarred sauce!  I took a short detour and made my favorite Christmas cookie, Ann Hodgeman's almond triangles.        


Anyway, I made the dough, yeast, water, sugar flour, salt and olive oil and let it rest for an hour.  I divided it into 4 balls.  I made the sauce by heating olivr oil and sauyeeing the pancetta, adding onions and garlic, adding tomatoes and rosemary and cooking for 40 minutes.  Not hard or complicated. 

I mixed a container of ricotta, 1/2 cup of mozz and 1/4 cup parm reggiano.  I rolled out each of the 4 dough balls and spooned in 1/4 of the ricotta mixture and topped with 1/4 of the sauce.  I then baked for 15 minutes.  They were extremely delicious and worth making again.  I plan on making them when I see Doris this weekend, if time permits.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Well, we got through Thanksgiving and black Friday.  The kids drove up to Doris' house in PA.  I held down the fort and used Alton Brown's recipe for turkey   http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html?rsrc=thanksgiving  and was very pleased with how crispy the skin was and how moist the breast meat turned out.  The kids took a turducken to PA, I like that Harris Teeter carries turducken.  I met my friend Herbie for coffee at Starbucks and we had some delicious gingerbread and good convo. 

Sept 2009

Good picture of Herbie.

The only shopping I did was to go to Barnes and Noble for a $59 Nook, which I got at 4:00 PM in 5 minutes.  Awesome!  Anyway, I did find time to make egg noodles with spinach, oven dried tomato and lemon and was happy that I did.  It was easy, tasty and filling.  I would make this again.  It is a casserole, so it would be either a good main dish or side dish.  There were no expensive or exotic ingredients, just egg noodles, grape tomatoes, onion and garlic (of course!  every recipe has had onions and garlic) fresh spinach, eggs, ricotta, milk, mascarpone, lemon zest and shredded provolone.  First I drizzled the tomatoes with olive oil and oven roasted them.  It took like an hour and a half.  I raised the oven temperature to 375 and brought water to a boil and cooked the egg noodles.  After sweating the onions and garlic I added the spinach to the frying pan until the spinach wilted (about 2 minutes).  When the onions/spinxh cooled I mixed in the tomatoes.  I cooked the noodles al dente and mixed with the spinach/onion mixture.  Next I mixed the eggs, ricotta, milk, mascarpone, lemon zest and salt in the blender.  I added to the noodle/spinach/onion mixture and put into an 8x8 baking dish.  I then topped with the shredded provolone and baked for 40 minutes.  Nothing was complex about this recipe.  I liked the addition of the lemon, it made it brighter, I might start adding lemon to more recipes.  Other than having to whip out the blender and the time it took to oven roast the tomatoes, this was no trouble at all, and very delicious in a lasagne kind of way.  A favorite in the cookbook, so far.  Doris promised she's making quiche on
monday, so look out!

Delicious noodle  casserole!

More delicious casserole!

One of my favorite pictures of my oldest son and my dad!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Somehow I succumbed to peer pressure and made chicken feet.  I thibk I saw a recipe on chow.com that rapsodized over how crunchy and delicious they were and referred to them as adidas.  I was enchanted!  I bought a couple of lb at the fabulous Grandmart, but forgot to cook them.  I re-bought some more at Giant and set forth.  My awesome friend Herbie thought that me cooking chicken feet was the funniest thing that he had ever heard.

2 lb chicken feet
4 cups of lard
1 stick butter
2 TBLS garlic
1 1/2 quart water
2 TBS salt

Cut the little nails off of the feet.  Salt the feet and let them sit for 10 minutes.  Boil them for 1 1/2 hours.  Fry them in the lard.  Melt the butter and cook with the garlic until it is browned.  Top the feet with the garlic butter.  Try mightily to find some chicken to eat.  The pads of the feet have some fat, but the little fingers that look like human hand have nothing.  Repeat in futility, cursing the day you made chicken feet.

Not good!

Little hands!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Awesome day, the Marines of Maintenance Section won best booth at the DoD maintenance symposium.  Shout out to Mike, Eric, Tony, Jim, Mark, Vic, Wade and Sam! And watched the Grease episode of Glee on HULU, who can not like Glee?   Back to making delicious food after a detour of stuffed squid.  These may have been the best soft shell crabs I have ever had, and I am an affecienado of soft shell crabs (have lived in MD for 28 years, baby!)  I had a box of frozen soft shell crabs.  I had made a couple previously  but thought they were watery.  That is, until Mike's recipe hit my hands!

I soaked the crabs in buttermilk and squeezed out the excess fluid.  This may be what kept them from being watery.  I heated vegetable oil in a skillet.  I combined polenta, flour, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne and rolled the crabs in it.  No problem, so far.  I fried the crabs in the oil until golden.  It took like 5 minutes per crab.  Mike suggested serving on a corn puree, so I went for it.  Of course, I had to dice half an onion>  If I get nothing else out of this experiment, I will be a champion onion dicer.  Sweated it while slicing the kernels off of 2 ears of corn.  Added corn to the sweating onion (great name for a band, maybe?)   Added chicken broth and saffron, cooked for awhile, then added cream and salt and cooked some more.  I plated the crabs on the corn puree.  Very tasty!  Tomorrow I will write about my experience with chicken feet.

Delicious soft shell crab!
  Another picture of crab.  You can see the zested lime on top, how cool.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Hope everyone recovered from the Marine Corps birthday yesterday!  https://twitter.com/Dakota_Meyer  Dakota Meyer has some excellent motivational quotes regarding the Marine Corps birthday and Vetrans' Day.  I managed to miss church today, forgot there wasn't an 8 AM service, what a knucklehead, but I did manage to fix the toilet...and in the same vein made a very yucky recipe.  I read somewhere that squid should be cooked for 2 minutes or two hours.  Guess the 35 minutes that this recipe called for didn't fall into either category.  To be fair, Josh said it wasn't as bad as I make it out to be.  Working in my favor, I had some "grand mother" tomato sauce already prepared.

So, I defrosted some baby squids I got at Grandmart and cut their tenacles off.  No problem there.  They were baby squid so the tenacles could be cut off with one slice.  I put the tenacles and scallops in the food processor and processed them.  I sauteed onion (I have never used more onions in my life prior to cooking Mike Isabella!), added shiitake, garlic and salt.  I mixed the tenacles (never have written the word tenacles as many times as in this sitting) with the mushroom mixture, along with bread crumbs, lemon zest and basil.  I was a loser girl and did not fill a ziplock bad with the stuffing and cut off a corner to fill the baby squid, but instead used my fingers and a spoon.  It was kind of ugly.  Anyway, got them stuffed, covered them with the "grand mother" tomato sauce and cooked them at 375 for 35 minutes.  They really smelled like bait!  I ate a couple and Josh ate a couple, but they were really fishy.  Don't know what went wrong in execution, but zero results.  Hug a vetran tomorrow.  We had hoped to go to Grafiato, but John has school at 1400, so don't think we can pull it off.

Bonus picture of Maj Spooner and Gunner Gore at Herbie's retirement.
The stuffed squid!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Happy birthday Marine Corps, the finest fighting force in world history!  I am so proud to play a small role in their support.  I talked to my friend Herbie the other day and he thinks our blog is funny and cute, so I am happy.  (He also is going to pick me up some wine, yay!)  That's pretty crazy news about Gen Petraeus' affair and stepping down as the head of the CIA, I read a good article on Slate http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/11/david_petraeus_s_affair_with_paula_broadwell_why_did_an_accomplished_and.htmlthat discussed the reasoning behind it.  Well, my mother and I went to Nanty Glo.  We had a great time and went shopping, ate lunch out and cooked up a storm.  We love Nanty Glo, and not just because it is my late father's hometown.  She made Aunt Connie's pepper rings, which she will blog about, and I made pork ragu and the "grand mother" tomato sauce.  We did not make pasta as I don't have a kitchen aid stand mixer with the pasta attachment, maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas.

So, both sauces are totally fabulous and I don't get why I have spent all of my adult life buying Ragu.  The "grand mother", named after the 5 mother sauces in culinary school, and is super easy to make.  I have made it since and my first impression still holds.  Really, all you do is carmelize onions, add garlic, crushed and fresh tomatoes, bay leaf and cook for 50 minutes.  I finished it with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.  It was so rich and fresh tasting.  Really about 150% better than anything I have bought.

The pork ragu was equally delicious, though a little involved.  I bought 3 lb of bone in country pork ribs and seared them.  I then sauteed mushrooms, onion, celery and carrots.  (I am happy to chop onions, celery and carrots in the food processor.  I do not believe I would be happy to chop by hand.  Funny, my dog Harry will answer to carrots, guess they sound similar!)  I added the wine and simmered, then added chicken broth (canned), crushed tomatoes and rosemary.  The seared pork was placed on top.  I was supposed to braise the whole thing for 3 hours in a 350 oven, but I only braised it for 1 1/2 hours.  The meat was falling off the bone at that point, so I took it out of the oven.  I shredded the pork and added it back to the sauce and cooked the whole thing on the stovetop for a little longer.  My house in Nanty Glo has a fabulous electric stove, thanks, Uncle Joe!

We ate both sauces over (boxed) pasta and couldn't decide which was better.  The grand mother was brighter but the ragu was more complex.

Delicious sauce!

More delicious sauce!

Doris and me!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Oh wow!  One of those recipes that it is totally worth buying a cookbook for.  I usually buy a cookbook, find one recipe I like, and ignore the rest of the book.  And of course buy another one, lather, rinse and repeat.  I am better at buying books (especially cookbooks) than I am at using them.  That's one of the reasons why I am glad to be cooking through this cookbook.  I've actually repeated some of the recipes, like lobster risotto and pork belly and beans, but continued to cook my way through.  I have made some good things, like bread soup and pasta with clams, the other way.

Just took Harry outside and there actually is a wintery mix going on and it is only Noember!  Not good.  Anyway, to make this, you need a pound of roasted peanuts and 4 cups ??? of LARD!  Who knew there still was a recioe calling for 4 cups of lard?  I made a simple syrup with sugar and water and added the peanuts.  Not hard!  While they were cooking, I heated the lard.  I fried the peanuts in the lard.  After 3 minutes I removed them and topped them with grated orange peel, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  They were amazing hot, but still delicious cold a couple of days later.  Seriously, make these and take them to holiday parties!  

Bonus picture of Harry!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A good weekend, no major crises, my high school football team (Saltsburg) beat my new home in PA team (Blacklick Valley), and the kids worked hard spinning signs.  I had some qualms about making veal cutlet.  My sister is opposed to eating veal and I am kind of ambivalent.  The kids said they were okay with eating veal, so I decided to go for it.

I actually didn't know where to buy veal, I had never made it before.  I went to three stores before I found it at Harris Teeter.  Kind of sneakily, arugula is involved (no, I didn't read that part) so another trip to the store was required.

Overall, this was a nice dish.  I like asparagus and the lemon and garlic were bright.  I don't know that I wouldn't make it with chicken if I were to make it again.  To make it, I breaded and sauteed the veal in olive oil and garlic.  I boiled and shocked asparagus.  Next a vinagarette of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper was called for.  It was easy to make, as you would imagine.  To assemble, you mixed the asparagus, some tomatoes, arugula, and basil with the vinagarette and placed it over the veal.  Lemon slices were placed on the sides.  It was tasty and the veal wasn't overcooked. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I'm a BIG fan of brussels sprouts!  My go to recipe is taken fron Esquire magazine (if so inclined, you should read it for the recipes...I know!)  You cover brussel sprouts 2/3 with white wine, drizzle olive oil on top, salt and pepper and bake, uncovered for an hour at 400.  Charred and delicious, kind of smoky and savory.  But, I am on a quest to cook Mike Isabella's cookbook cover to cover (with my highly esteemed mother Doris), so I had to try Mike's recipe.  It's very good and a worthy alternative to my Esquire recipe.

First, I preheated the oven to 475.  Josh and I had an interesting discussion regarding the value of preheating the other day.  Other than for cakes and cookies, we think it's overrated.  I sauteed the pancetta and green onion then added vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup.  I roasted brussel sprouts (for only 25 min!) and then coated with the pancetta sauce.  I would definitely have cooked these longer (to be fair, they were halved) but they were salty and savory and sweet.  I used grade B maple syrup from Trader Joe's, so it wasn't overly sweet.  A good alternative brussel sprout recipe.